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Sex with Presidents: The Ins and Outs of Love and Lust in the White House

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In this fascinating work of popular history, the New York Times bestselling author of Sex with Kings and The Royal Art of Poison uncovers the bedroom secrets of American presidents and explores the surprising ways voters have reacted to their leaders’ sex scandals. While Americans have a reputation for being strait-laced, many of the nation’s leaders have been anything but In this fascinating work of popular history, the New York Times bestselling author of Sex with Kings and The Royal Art of Poison uncovers the bedroom secrets of American presidents and explores the surprising ways voters have reacted to their leaders’ sex scandals. While Americans have a reputation for being strait-laced, many of the nation’s leaders have been anything but puritanical. Alexander Hamilton had a steamy affair with a blackmailing prostitute. John F. Kennedy swam nude with female staff in the White House swimming pool. Is it possible the qualities needed to run for president—narcissism, a thirst for power, a desire for importance—go hand in hand with a tendency to sexual misdoing? In this entertaining and eye-opening book, Eleanor Herman revisits some of the sex scandals that have rocked the nation's capital and shocked the public, while asking the provocative questions: does rampant adultery show a lack of character or the stamina needed to run the country? Or perhaps both? While Americans have judged their leaders' affairs harshly compared to other nations, did they mostly just hate being lied to? And do they now clearly care more about issues other than a politician’s sex life? What is sex like with the most powerful man in the world? Is it better than with your average Joe? And when America finally elects a female president, will she, too, have sexual escapades in the Oval Office?


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In this fascinating work of popular history, the New York Times bestselling author of Sex with Kings and The Royal Art of Poison uncovers the bedroom secrets of American presidents and explores the surprising ways voters have reacted to their leaders’ sex scandals. While Americans have a reputation for being strait-laced, many of the nation’s leaders have been anything but In this fascinating work of popular history, the New York Times bestselling author of Sex with Kings and The Royal Art of Poison uncovers the bedroom secrets of American presidents and explores the surprising ways voters have reacted to their leaders’ sex scandals. While Americans have a reputation for being strait-laced, many of the nation’s leaders have been anything but puritanical. Alexander Hamilton had a steamy affair with a blackmailing prostitute. John F. Kennedy swam nude with female staff in the White House swimming pool. Is it possible the qualities needed to run for president—narcissism, a thirst for power, a desire for importance—go hand in hand with a tendency to sexual misdoing? In this entertaining and eye-opening book, Eleanor Herman revisits some of the sex scandals that have rocked the nation's capital and shocked the public, while asking the provocative questions: does rampant adultery show a lack of character or the stamina needed to run the country? Or perhaps both? While Americans have judged their leaders' affairs harshly compared to other nations, did they mostly just hate being lied to? And do they now clearly care more about issues other than a politician’s sex life? What is sex like with the most powerful man in the world? Is it better than with your average Joe? And when America finally elects a female president, will she, too, have sexual escapades in the Oval Office?

30 review for Sex with Presidents: The Ins and Outs of Love and Lust in the White House

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jeff Swartz

    Came for the sex, stayed for the history!

  2. 5 out of 5

    Annabelle Patton

    I got through chapter 3 and stopped. The idea of describing the consistent rape of Sally Hemmings (which is rape, she was enslaved to Jefferson and was the result of the rape of her mother by Jefferson's father in law) as a torrid love affair is obscene and harmful. How dare the author try to make justifications that she may have loved him when he lied about going to free their children and enslaved her until she died. There is a difference between reporting history and glazing over barbarities I got through chapter 3 and stopped. The idea of describing the consistent rape of Sally Hemmings (which is rape, she was enslaved to Jefferson and was the result of the rape of her mother by Jefferson's father in law) as a torrid love affair is obscene and harmful. How dare the author try to make justifications that she may have loved him when he lied about going to free their children and enslaved her until she died. There is a difference between reporting history and glazing over barbarities for a ridiculous and inflammatory chapter.

  3. 5 out of 5

    madison

    I read this because, like most people, I love trash and smut. I read Sex with Kings maybe 15 years ago and enjoyed it. I'm not sure what my opinion of it would be if I read it now based on how I feel about Sex with Presidents. All in all, I'm not a fan. Sex with Presidents is a fun enough read -- who doesn't enjoy reading about the private sex lives of other people? I definitely do. This was like reading a tabloid, and I don't mean that to sound insulting because I find those entertaining as well I read this because, like most people, I love trash and smut. I read Sex with Kings maybe 15 years ago and enjoyed it. I'm not sure what my opinion of it would be if I read it now based on how I feel about Sex with Presidents. All in all, I'm not a fan. Sex with Presidents is a fun enough read -- who doesn't enjoy reading about the private sex lives of other people? I definitely do. This was like reading a tabloid, and I don't mean that to sound insulting because I find those entertaining as well. Again, trash, I love it. The writing is accessible and very easy to read, which is more than many other history or non-fiction books can claim. It keeps your attention, I remember Sex with Kings doing the same. My problem with this book is that it's not always clear where the information is sourced from, and a lot of the content is sexist. There's the fact that the author, who claims to be a historian, doesn't explicitly call Thomas Jefferson's relationship with Sally Hemings rape, but rather entertains the notion that Hemings may have been in love with Jefferson... the man who enslaved her and kept their children as property. This is NOT complicated. I lost all of the respect I may have had for the publication or the author in that chapter. This is a book published in 2020. Get your shit together. Beyond that, the author loved to detail how "attractive" or "unattractive" a President's wife or mistress was or wasn't, or how they were a good wife or a bad wife or a dull wife (perhaps implying some may have deserved the treatment they were subjected to by their husbands). The author equated LBJ's abusive treatment of his wife as a "loving" relationship despite it... actually being an abusive relationship? "He was abusive to her, but was still actually super in love with her. You know, if you can ignore the abusive aspects of the relationship." I cringed. This is such a toxic and common belief within romantic (especially heterosexual) relationships. Strong pass. How I would love to read these historical stories written by someone with a solid understanding of race, gender, and sexuality studies. The author seems to lack the necessarily understanding of these areas, and certainly the compassion needed to tell these stories well and with some depth of humanity. The whole vibe felt strange and off putting for me... it all felt so cheap. I enjoy books about sexuality, trashy romance novels... the TV show Harlots is a great example of smut done well. It's bawdy and fun and loud, and yet it still manages to treat its characters with dignity. I don't get that same vibe here. I don't think that will bother all readers, but it did for me. For most of the individuals mentioned in this book I hold very little judgement (aside from rapists such as Jefferson & Cleveland, etc, obviously), and I'm not offended by the sexual acts themselves or the infidelity detailed in the book. It's the way they're told by the author. It feels cheap like clickbait, or simply a project that serves as an easy way for the author to make money off of salacious stories. Which like... fair enough, I can understand that. I just expected better. Anyway, this book was trash (not in the good sense, as I was hoping). I don't recommend anyone waste their money on it. You can find much of the same content online or on Wikipedia, and it may even be less offensively written? Thanks to #NetGalley and HarperCollins for sharing a copy of this book with me in exchange for an honest review.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Laura McGee

    What a ride! Just the perfect amount of actual political information and salacious gossip for my tastes, it is only getting a 3 star review to its lack of citations. Also cause it focuses just a little too much on the women’s appearances, being very unflattering for no reason I could see. Hamilton, Jefferson, Garfield, Buchanan, Cleveland, Wilson, Harding, FDR, JFK, LBJ, Clinton, Trump, Gary Hart, this is a real treasure trove of information! Obviously the stories are all a little hard to read bu What a ride! Just the perfect amount of actual political information and salacious gossip for my tastes, it is only getting a 3 star review to its lack of citations. Also cause it focuses just a little too much on the women’s appearances, being very unflattering for no reason I could see. Hamilton, Jefferson, Garfield, Buchanan, Cleveland, Wilson, Harding, FDR, JFK, LBJ, Clinton, Trump, Gary Hart, this is a real treasure trove of information! Obviously the stories are all a little hard to read but Jefferson, Cleveland, Clinton, and Trump are more difficult to get through than the others.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Kirsti

    “Florence Harding?” said one Marion lady. “Runs her house, runs the paper, runs Warren; runs everything but the car, and could run that if she wanted to.” Okay, Florence Harding is now one of my favorite historical figures. Pregnant, abandoned, cut off by her father, she set her sights on Warren Harding, a newspaper owner and unstoppable sex machine. She was five years older and not the most beautiful woman in town. But she pursued him and described all the things she would do to make his busin “Florence Harding?” said one Marion lady. “Runs her house, runs the paper, runs Warren; runs everything but the car, and could run that if she wanted to.” Okay, Florence Harding is now one of my favorite historical figures. Pregnant, abandoned, cut off by her father, she set her sights on Warren Harding, a newspaper owner and unstoppable sex machine. She was five years older and not the most beautiful woman in town. But she pursued him and described all the things she would do to make his business run better. Also her estranged dad was the richest man in town, so she miiiiiight inherit that money. So Warren married Florence! At their wedding she told everyone that she would make him president. AND SHE DID. But it took many years. First she took over the business, doing everything from pioneering new marketing techniques to hiring female reporters to learning to fix the printing press. Warren played poker and drank a lot and fucked everything that moved. Teenage girls, widows, married ladies, didn't matter. He rose through the ranks of local and statewide and national politics. "[S]he asked a senator, 'Who was the most successful First Lady of the Land?' 'Mrs. Cleveland or Dolley Madison, I suppose,' he replied. 'Watch me,' Florence rejoined." Did Florence love being first lady? Oh yes. In one day she shook the hands of more than 6,000 people. Many Americans considered her a beloved suffragette auntie, friendly and unpretentious and practical. Did Warren love being president? He hated it. So many ladies blackmailed him that he had to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes that rich friends provided him. (It didn't help that he continued to write 50-page love letters to some of the women who blackmailed him. They were excellent love letters, BTW.) He rewarded those rich friends with important government positions, which they promptly used for kickbacks and extortion, thus destroying Harding's presidency. One of the White House servants found the president sobbing on the lawn, wailing that he hated his life because people followed him every minute of the day, which meant he couldn't have any affairs. Did Florence kill Warren when it became apparent his presidency was in shambles and he was going to be booted out of office? MAYBE. Anyway this whole book is lively and intriguing and makes me grateful that I have far more protections and options than most of these women did. My only quibble is that the author uses the phrase "wheelchair-bound," which is outdated and inaccurate. The wheelchair is the thing that helps you get around, not the thing that confines you.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Esther King

    Why, hello there, first book of 2021. Got to start the new year off as salaciously as possible. So yes, I spent a little of my birthday reading about the sex lives of US presidents. Anyone who wishes to consult with me further on the matter is welcome to- I know it's not an ordinary choice. This book covers a fascinating gamut, and included a lot of details that I had no idea about, however, it does get some things wrong. Most specifically, Sally Hemings and her story is wildly misconstrued, whi Why, hello there, first book of 2021. Got to start the new year off as salaciously as possible. So yes, I spent a little of my birthday reading about the sex lives of US presidents. Anyone who wishes to consult with me further on the matter is welcome to- I know it's not an ordinary choice. This book covers a fascinating gamut, and included a lot of details that I had no idea about, however, it does get some things wrong. Most specifically, Sally Hemings and her story is wildly misconstrued, which is what has knocked this down from a four star for me. There needed to be less of the hopeless romance story pushed here- more of the horrific rape story that actually happened. The bulk of the other information is reasonably stable and certainly interesting. There's a lot of detail about the rotten underbelly of the US presidential image, specifically regarding those lovely 'family values' conservatives. It's a wild ride, and well worth a read if you can deal with just how salacious the details get at times.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Mediaman

    Poorly-researched book filled with the author's unsubstantiated assumptions, summarizing how 11 presidents were serial womanizers and at times rapists. No surprise that most of these were Democrats, but the writer then ridiculously overpraises the public policies of those cheating Democrats, talks about their amazing charisma, and downplays any accomplishments by the few Republicans in the book. Add to that a short conclusion that women in politics don't have this problem and if more women were Poorly-researched book filled with the author's unsubstantiated assumptions, summarizing how 11 presidents were serial womanizers and at times rapists. No surprise that most of these were Democrats, but the writer then ridiculously overpraises the public policies of those cheating Democrats, talks about their amazing charisma, and downplays any accomplishments by the few Republicans in the book. Add to that a short conclusion that women in politics don't have this problem and if more women were elected we wouldn't have political sex scandals, and what you have is one really bad book. The main problem is the lack of original research. All the author does is pull quotes from other books and treat them like facts. Just because someone writes a memoir that doesn't mean what's contained within it is factual, whether that be a politician or a sex partner of a politician. There are many times in the book where Herman claims to not know whether something is true, but she never does any actual research to discover the truth. So the book is filled with possible lies and gossip that might be fun to see as a summary but there's no sense of what's accurate and what's innuendo. Add to that her silly opinions mixed within the facts she claims to be sharing. She uses the word "probably" a lot and other opinionated guessing words, which means she is drawing a conclusion based on her hunches and not facts. I did like that she didn't pull punches when it came to some of the wives involved--insulting the looks of Eleanor Roosevelt and Hillary Clinton--and there's speculation about the sexual orientation of some, but again no depth or specific evidence. Other inadequate asides are about JFK's ties to the Mafia and the late Vince Foster's mysterious death after he got "too close" to Hillary, but where are the stories about the many others that died or disappeared after knowing too much about the affairs of JFK, LBJ, Clinton, and other presidents? While she pulls a quick feminist conclusion, insulting our intelligence by stating that we wouldn't have these problems with female politicians, she fails to state the obvious--Democrats in particular are horrible at keeping commitments and stating the truth. They often bed anything they can get their hands on, often putting national security at risk or becoming close with criminals. Sexual trysts are just indication of what lousy men were elected to office because if they'll cheat on their wives they'll cheat on the rest of America with all sorts of political issues. For her to praise LBJ, JFK, and Clinton (just about the three worst cheaters in the history of our country, at least two that demanded their lovers get abortions and lied under oath) makes the entire book lack credibility. Then she tries to make Donald Trump look really bad, using tabloid observations about him at the beginning and end of the book, when in truth he looks like a middle school rookie compared to the "hundreds" (her word) of women bedded by Kennedy, Cleveland, Clinton, and Roosevelt. Try as hard as she can, the conclusion is clear--the Democrats elected to office are cheaters, liars, manipulators, and will stop at nothing (including the deaths of others) in order to cover their infidelities. How sad for our country that we don't stand up against this. Instead, as she correctly pointed out, Clinton's popularity numbers peaked at 76% approval the week he was impeached for lying about having sex in the Oval Office. Disgusting. Why are we refusing to trust leaders (particularly Democrats but Republicans are guilty too) who say one thing but do another thing? What this book uncovers is that our political leaders are players that think they can get away with anything...and that voters are letting them do it.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Karen

    Don’t read this book if you’re a traditionalist when it comes to sex. It’s a very irreverent, bawdy look into the illicit sex lives of not just American Presidents, as the title suggests, but American politicians in general, starting with Alexander Hamilton all the way up to Donald Trump. Most of the sex scandals the author mentions I knew about, but some I didn’t. One thing is for sure: she had plenty of examples to choose from. Eleanor Herman examines how the American public’s reaction to politi Don’t read this book if you’re a traditionalist when it comes to sex. It’s a very irreverent, bawdy look into the illicit sex lives of not just American Presidents, as the title suggests, but American politicians in general, starting with Alexander Hamilton all the way up to Donald Trump. Most of the sex scandals the author mentions I knew about, but some I didn’t. One thing is for sure: she had plenty of examples to choose from. Eleanor Herman examines how the American public’s reaction to political sex scandals has gradually changed from outrage to resignation: Personal morality, Americans of the 1990s figured out, had little to do with leadership capability. It was as if the American public were becoming French. We are exhausted. Numb. Desensitized. We are now a very hard nation to shock, and sexual assault claims have become business as usual. . . She also shows us how the press coverage of political sex scandals has evolved from full exposure of sexual wrongdoing, to a “gentleman’s agreement” not to mention Presidents’ sex lives, to a return to relentless adversarial coverage: By 1987, the history of political sex scandal coverage had come full circle: from the muckraking rags of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries screaming out headlines about Hamilton’s adultery, Thomas Jefferson’s enslaved mistress, and Grover Cleveland’s illegitimate child, to the dignified, sedate press of the first decades of the twentieth century, right back into shrill muckraking. Herman has a very witty, almost gossipy writing style, which some readers may think is out of place for the sexual misbehaviors she describes, so be forewarned. She also goes into salacious detail (almost too much at times), and much of her research tends to rely on the “kiss-and-tell” memoirs of Presidential mistresses, which may be biased or embellished (not to mention being atrociously written). An interesting, sometimes fun read if you take this book for what it is. 3.5 stars rounded up to 4.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Jamie Jones Hullinger

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Thanks to the publisher for my e-galley! I was so excited to see that Eleanor had more of her "Sex with..." books. I read both Sex with Queens and Sex with Kings. These have all of the ingredients for a perfect nonfiction read for me. They have salacious details, fascinating insight into the past and amazing facts. I now know that LBJ called his penis "Jumbo". This book includes the well known love affairs of FDR, JFK and Thomas Jefferson but still includes alot of elements I was not aware of. I Thanks to the publisher for my e-galley! I was so excited to see that Eleanor had more of her "Sex with..." books. I read both Sex with Queens and Sex with Kings. These have all of the ingredients for a perfect nonfiction read for me. They have salacious details, fascinating insight into the past and amazing facts. I now know that LBJ called his penis "Jumbo". This book includes the well known love affairs of FDR, JFK and Thomas Jefferson but still includes alot of elements I was not aware of. I did not realize the degree of interest JFK had for sex workers. I did not realize just how miserable and heartbreaking a marriage FDR and Eleanor had. The biggest surprise was the emotional affair Ike Eisenhower had with a female driver during WWII. That story was fascinating and so extraordinarily sad for both parties. Herman does these exposes well because she brings humanity and compassion to to those who deserve the empathy. It is never easy to be standing next to a person in power with despicable behavior and keep your head held high. I credit Jackie Kennedy and Lady Bird Johnson with maintaining dignity and grace despite the actions of their husbands. Both turned the other way while their husbands carried on with affair after affair. If you find yourself captivated by the lives of public figures...the good, the bad and the ugly...then this is the book for you!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    Sex With Presidents by Eleanor Herman is a nonfiction book that is a collection of different Presidents and leaders (mostly US, however a few scandals were added at the end featuring other naughty men from other countries) that dabbled in controversies and liaisons. It was interesting to read the behaviors one next to another, and to see depending on the time, person, and what current events that were occurring at said time, how the public viewed and responded to the acts. It was surprising, yes Sex With Presidents by Eleanor Herman is a nonfiction book that is a collection of different Presidents and leaders (mostly US, however a few scandals were added at the end featuring other naughty men from other countries) that dabbled in controversies and liaisons. It was interesting to read the behaviors one next to another, and to see depending on the time, person, and what current events that were occurring at said time, how the public viewed and responded to the acts. It was surprising, yes I must be naive, to see how many men were involved. Some I knew about, sadly some I did not. Definitely interesting. The author clearly did her research in compiling this collection. Its sad that she had so much material to choose from. 4/5 stars Thank you EW and William Morrow/ HarperCollins for this ARC and in return I am submitting my unbiased and voluntary review and opinion.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Katie Bogdan

    4 stars Eleanor Herman has done it again: Sex with Presidents is a delightful look into the private assignations of the most powerful men in our history. I had read Herman's previous books in this loose series (Sex with the King and Sex with the Queen) a few years ago and absolutely loved them. This newest addition retains both her razor wit and dedication to research with the added bonus of being immensely topical. There were moments when my jaw hit the floor and moments when I laughed out loud. 4 stars Eleanor Herman has done it again: Sex with Presidents is a delightful look into the private assignations of the most powerful men in our history. I had read Herman's previous books in this loose series (Sex with the King and Sex with the Queen) a few years ago and absolutely loved them. This newest addition retains both her razor wit and dedication to research with the added bonus of being immensely topical. There were moments when my jaw hit the floor and moments when I laughed out loud. This is non-fiction at its best. My only complaint about this book is completely out of Herman's hands: it made me so sad for the women of this country. This book shows how from its inception, our country's leaders have failed 50% of its population by continually treating them like objects. There are certainly instances in this book of deep love between a president and his mistress, but for the most part, it was love em and leave em. Herman does inspire some hope at the end with the fact that more women are seeking political office and her belief that this will hopefully change things for the better. That is a hope that I cling to these days. Thank you to NetGalley and William Morrow for an ARC of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review!

  12. 4 out of 5

    Quimby 📚📖🩰💐🦥🐘☕️📚📖

    It needs to be explicitly stated that sally hemmings could not be in a consensual relationship as she was a slave and he was a slave owner. The imbalance of power prevents her from consenting. Honestly she needed to be left out entirely as she was raped. RAPES SHOULD NOT BE INCLUDED! Cleveland is trash. His victim should have been left out as well.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jaime Arkin

    This was such an interesting read! Full review to come!

  14. 5 out of 5

    Tarin Shay

    Certainly very interesting

  15. 4 out of 5

    Christie

    It is a truth universally acknowledged that the Achilles' heel is located nowhere near a person's foot but rather higher up. From the author of Sex with Kings: 500 Years of Adultery, Power, Rivalry, and Revenge and Sex with the Queen: 900 Years of Vile Kings, Virile Lovers, and Passionate Politics comes a new anthology of scandal and power with a decidedly American flavor. Herman explores the intersection of hubris, charisma, and sexual misconduct in American politics. I've read the other two It is a truth universally acknowledged that the Achilles' heel is located nowhere near a person's foot but rather higher up. From the author of Sex with Kings: 500 Years of Adultery, Power, Rivalry, and Revenge and Sex with the Queen: 900 Years of Vile Kings, Virile Lovers, and Passionate Politics comes a new anthology of scandal and power with a decidedly American flavor. Herman explores the intersection of hubris, charisma, and sexual misconduct in American politics. I've read the other two books about royal sex scandals, but I wasn't sure I wanted to try this one since it was a bit closer to home. I gave it a try though since I enjoy Herman's writing and I am glad that I did. Though I knew quite a bit of what was covered for the modern presidents, there was a lot from the early 20th century especially that I did not know about (Herman talks quite extensively about how the media practices of that day kept a lot of things from being public knowledge). I like that beyond the scandals, Herman looks into the psychology, history, and social practices of the various time periods covered. She also explores how we view our political figures and their privates lives a bit differently than other countries do. Like her previous books, her humor and wit also shine throughout the book. It is not always a comfortable book to read, especially with our contemporary understanding of consent. Herman handles it all very well though in my opinion. If you are wanting to explore a different side of American presidential history, you may want to give this book a try. I do want to provide a content warning though; there are discussions of rape and assault in this book. There are not graphic descriptions, but may still be disturbing to some readers.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Chantal E. R. H.

    I've read several of Eleanor Herman's books. I've read The Royal Art of Poison, Mistress of the Vatican and Sex With Kings. I REALLY enjoyed Sex with Kings. Mistress of the Vatican was also pretty good. Royal Art of Poison was a good Uncle John reader. It was very superficial but fun to read. I don't mind a good Uncle John book. They're fun to read in the bath when you don't want to think too hard/are anxious/whatever. The problem is I wanted Sex with Presidents to be more like Sex With Kings, w I've read several of Eleanor Herman's books. I've read The Royal Art of Poison, Mistress of the Vatican and Sex With Kings. I REALLY enjoyed Sex with Kings. Mistress of the Vatican was also pretty good. Royal Art of Poison was a good Uncle John reader. It was very superficial but fun to read. I don't mind a good Uncle John book. They're fun to read in the bath when you don't want to think too hard/are anxious/whatever. The problem is I wanted Sex with Presidents to be more like Sex With Kings, which (unless my memory of Kings is really wrong) was more of a serious book. While it was fun, it also had some depth to it and was very engaging. Sex with Presidents.... was not that. I read the first chapter about Alexander Hamilton and then decided life is too short. It's very.... well it's an Uncle John book but I wanted more this time. I felt pandered to and like this time around, the author didn't think very highly of her audience. So I gave up at page 44. I really wish there was a separate category from Read, Currently Reading and Want to Read to put the did not finish books. I feel like cheating having it count as read towards my end of the year goal! I just don't want these books to stick around my currently reading shelf, or even worse yet, want to read shelf.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Elaine

    Sex with Presidents was an eye-opening and engrossing read about the lives of some of our Presidents. Some presidents were players (not surprisingly); yet others were a surprise to me. You really can't judge a book by its cover. I'm not a young ingenue who believes all men (and women) are faithful, and though I'm no prude, some of these stories were icky. And by icky I mean heinously unhygienic. For example: when the author recaps how JFK's staff were forced to pick out every stray blond hair fr Sex with Presidents was an eye-opening and engrossing read about the lives of some of our Presidents. Some presidents were players (not surprisingly); yet others were a surprise to me. You really can't judge a book by its cover. I'm not a young ingenue who believes all men (and women) are faithful, and though I'm no prude, some of these stories were icky. And by icky I mean heinously unhygienic. For example: when the author recaps how JFK's staff were forced to pick out every stray blond hair from the marital bed, yet why not change the sheets instead? Seriously, I barfed a little in my mouth. It does not surprise me that these men (regardless if they were president or not) were never held accountable for the terrible things they did to these women. Society will continue to ostracize and shame women (whether they are sexual assault survivors or enjoy affairs of their own) and men will be lauded for their prowess, virility and masculinity.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Sylvia

    Really enjoyed this book. A huge eye opener. Not being judgmental about the Presidents' escapades because their life is their own, but the part that struck me was the hypocrisy behind their deeds, words and actions. I had known about some of the "rumors", but not nearly the depth of them as stated in this book. The information in is book is supported with a bibliography and I'm sure the author could have found other Presidents culpable of this behavior but just didn't have enough corroborating e Really enjoyed this book. A huge eye opener. Not being judgmental about the Presidents' escapades because their life is their own, but the part that struck me was the hypocrisy behind their deeds, words and actions. I had known about some of the "rumors", but not nearly the depth of them as stated in this book. The information in is book is supported with a bibliography and I'm sure the author could have found other Presidents culpable of this behavior but just didn't have enough corroborating evidence to justify putting it in this book. Written in a style that make it enjoyable reading -- not dry and stuffy.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Einar Jensen

    “Then, as now, citizens loved good stories that gripped the heart and stirred up righteous anger,” author Eleanor Herman writes in her excellent book Sex with Presidents: The Ins and Outs of Love and Lust in the White House. “It was easier to see the world in clear, comforting black and white, rather than in fifty shades of confusing, morally ambiguous gray. Moreover, the news they chose confirmed the beliefs they already held, helping them avoid the discomfort of realizing they may, in fact, be “Then, as now, citizens loved good stories that gripped the heart and stirred up righteous anger,” author Eleanor Herman writes in her excellent book Sex with Presidents: The Ins and Outs of Love and Lust in the White House. “It was easier to see the world in clear, comforting black and white, rather than in fifty shades of confusing, morally ambiguous gray. Moreover, the news they chose confirmed the beliefs they already held, helping them avoid the discomfort of realizing they may, in fact, be wrong.“ She was writing about the US in the 1790s as citizens tried to understand Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton’s affair with Maria Reynolds. Three hundred pages later, she wrote similar sentences regarding our current president. This book is an engaging tour de force about the privilege of power, male privilege, toxic masculinity, and rampant hypocrisy within our puritanical nation. The author deftly reveals not just with whom our nation’s presidents have had affairs, but also why and how. The last two aspects of the affairs were most interesting because is many cases their Secret Service Agents, employees, and wives knew about their “dalliances” and tolerated them. And between the administrations of Grover Cleveland and George HW Bush, journalists also knew but followed an unwritten rule to ignore this aspect of their lives. For example, a reporter walked into a bedroom in Kennedy’s White House and found Angie Dickinson naked sprawled across a bed. The reporter simply left and closed the door behind him. That rule disappeared just in time for Gary Hart’s campaign, but half of Americans still don’t care about presidential sexcapades as long as said president talks a good game. Herman’s book certainly surprised me. Clearly Hamilton and Hart weren’t presidents, but those chapters were just as thought-provoking as the ones on Cleveland, Woodrow Wilson, Warren Harding, FDR, Eisenhower, Kennedy, LBJ, Bill Clinton, and Trump. The sheer volume of women with whom these powerful men groped, kissed, raped, or had consensual sex with is numbing. Harding and Kennedy had buzzers installed in the Oval Office so they would be warned when their wives approached. The author also considers affairs by First Ladies, Representatives, and Senators. However, while her investigations show far more gray in the morality of some of our national leaders, she also spoke to the morality of presidents who didn’t warrant their own chapters. That juxtaposition—who did “earn” a chapter and who didn’t—may be the most striking feature of the book as I ponder it. So I will ponder more about why We the People tolerate (and in some cases champion) such adolescent, toxic behavior from our presidents. I recommend this book.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jill Barton

    As a person who loves history this book intrigued me. I have to say I found it very interesting. It wasnt that type of scandoulous but it was definitely an insight into the personalities of the men who become the most powerful in our country.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    Definitely wouldn't use this as a source! There is a bibliography, but nothing is cited throughout. A fun and crazy book to read, though. A nice break from what I've been reading. Definitely wouldn't use this as a source! There is a bibliography, but nothing is cited throughout. A fun and crazy book to read, though. A nice break from what I've been reading.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Victoria

    2.5 stars

  23. 5 out of 5

    Katie

    They don’t teach you about this in your normal history courses. For those of you who are unaware of American history, the sex lives of the presidents have merely been summed up here. You can read brief inclusions in many of their biographies, hear about it mentioned in passing amongst academics, or, like the current administration, it will be trending at least once a week on social media. It’s a fun and quick read for anyone looking for a distraction and possessing a desire to learn something ne They don’t teach you about this in your normal history courses. For those of you who are unaware of American history, the sex lives of the presidents have merely been summed up here. You can read brief inclusions in many of their biographies, hear about it mentioned in passing amongst academics, or, like the current administration, it will be trending at least once a week on social media. It’s a fun and quick read for anyone looking for a distraction and possessing a desire to learn something new. I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jeremy Cox

    This book details the many indiscretions of our nation's leaders. As shocking as they are, the behavior of DT45 is actually mild compared to Harding and Kennedy. This book details the many indiscretions of our nation's leaders. As shocking as they are, the behavior of DT45 is actually mild compared to Harding and Kennedy.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Caroline

    Very interesting book about the most "randy" presidents and others in American history, and the history of how the press handled such information (i.e., until Gary Hart, the press totally looked the other way!) I learned a lot of history that I did not know other than sexual exploits. Very interesting book about the most "randy" presidents and others in American history, and the history of how the press handled such information (i.e., until Gary Hart, the press totally looked the other way!) I learned a lot of history that I did not know other than sexual exploits.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Roberta

    OMG, just when you knew all the presidential sex scandals believe me “you ain’t read anything yet”.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Phdrseuss

    VERY INTERESTING. It kept my attention til it got to Chapter 11 (Gary Hart). I still read it. Chapters 11 & 12 I'm already familiar with and didn't learn much that was new to me. Twelve presidents are covered as far back as Alexander Hoover. Chapter 14 (From Ooh-La-La to BungaBungo The Political Sex Scandals of Other Nations) is when I read of people (as the title says) of other nations. VERY INTERESTING. It kept my attention til it got to Chapter 11 (Gary Hart). I still read it. Chapters 11 & 12 I'm already familiar with and didn't learn much that was new to me. Twelve presidents are covered as far back as Alexander Hoover. Chapter 14 (From Ooh-La-La to BungaBungo The Political Sex Scandals of Other Nations) is when I read of people (as the title says) of other nations.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Pam

    I know I like a book a lot when I quote parts of it to family and friends. Soooo much fascinating history!!!

  29. 4 out of 5

    Matt Conger

    This was a surprisingly thoughtful book. I got it from the library more out of curiosity than anything. The thesis of the book seems to be: when men are in power, they are always going to have sex scandals, but what matters is how much society cares about that behavior. She describes the media's evolution between suppressing this kind of reporting and sensationalizing it. The tipping point (in the US, at least) being that the combination of Watergate + Vietnam made the office of the President le This was a surprisingly thoughtful book. I got it from the library more out of curiosity than anything. The thesis of the book seems to be: when men are in power, they are always going to have sex scandals, but what matters is how much society cares about that behavior. She describes the media's evolution between suppressing this kind of reporting and sensationalizing it. The tipping point (in the US, at least) being that the combination of Watergate + Vietnam made the office of the President less something to revere and more something to investigate. And that the specific "point of no return" was the Gary Hart scandal. The book also makes one feel a bit sad about life. The majority of stories are some variation on: "Here's a beautiful young woman and an ambitious middle-aged man. Here's their affair. Here's them getting old. And here's one dying before the other." But there's really no other way the author could have structured the narrative - the fact that the story is both repetitive and (with a few exceptions) sad in the end is the point. So whatever amusement you'll feel by cracking open a book titled "Sex with Presidents", you should brace yourself for needing a pick-me-up when you finish it.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Eileen

    If I said "Oh, my God!" once, I said it a hundred times while reading this book. I could not believe some of this stuff! Engrossing (and grossing too, sometimes), enlightening, disturbing, surprising, crazy and I could not put this down! If I said "Oh, my God!" once, I said it a hundred times while reading this book. I could not believe some of this stuff! Engrossing (and grossing too, sometimes), enlightening, disturbing, surprising, crazy and I could not put this down!

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